Nordic heritage, unique flavors are focus of new skyr cup

A new paperboard-plastic thermoform structure and redesigned label graphics differentiate Icelandic Provisions’ skyr product from yogurt and highlight its Nordic roots and ingredients.

Located within grocery stores’ congested 350-plus SKU refrigerated yogurt section—but not a yogurt—skyr from Icelandic Provisions has an interesting story to tell and a unique recipe to showcase. Skyr is a 1,000-plus-year-old Icelandic cultured dairy product rich in protein and low in sugar that is made with cultures that have been passed down by generations of Icelanders. Icelandic Provisions of Batavia, NY, was founded to bring authentic skyr to North America, using Heirloom Skyr Cultures.

In November 2016, IP set out to redesign both the structure and graphics for its thermoformed skyr cups to match the premium flavor of the product and stand out in the crowded yogurt section. “We had two main objectives that drove the decision to change our packaging,” explains IP Vice President of Marketing Elliot Shifrin. “First, we wanted packaging that more clearly communicated our Nordic heritage from a visual standpoint. Second, we wanted to celebrate and highlight our unique fruits and flavors, giving them a higher order than they had in the previous cup.

“We make a product that has a rich history going back several centuries to the Viking age. We wanted our packaging to communicate the importance of what was inside the cup.”

IP worked closely with two partners to bring about the change: Moxie Sozo for the package graphics and Greiner Packaging for the structure.

To guide the graphics redesign, Moxie Sozo conducted a deep-dive discovery session with key leadership from the IP team and studied industry trends in the yogurt and dairy categories, as well as consumer preferences. “Finally, we dug into the existing product packaging, including flavor profiles, taste, and nutrition, creative considerations around what they wanted to keep and what was open to change, key messaging, and retail strategy,” explains Moxie Sozo Senior Designer Nate Dyer.

The primary task in the redesign was to amplify the premium feel of the packaging, bring forward taste appeal in both color and illustration style, and on the primary display panel, highlight the superior nutritional values around more protein and less sugar. Says Dyer, as Iceland is renowned for its breathtaking landscape of glaciers, geysers, and volcanos, as well as its Artic foxes and adventurous, hardy inhabitants, “the design inspiration was plentiful.”

Also used as inspiration were the works of Scandinavian textile designer Josef Frank, Swedish designer Stig Lindberg, and Finnish furniture and décor designer Maija Louekari, as well as packaging illustrations for the Japanese brand Fika.

Because IP’s eight varieties of skyr include a number of rich, unusual Nordic fruits, including cloudberries, lingonberries, and bilberries, the packaging—a rounded, rectangular cup—is decorated with colorful illustrations of the fruits in a pattern across the front panel. It also includes a line drawing of an Artic fox in a different stance on each variety. The cup for Plain skyr is illustrated with a little red house and a cow graphic.

“With a solid line of flavor offerings, it was critical to design a family of packaging that infused some continuity of elements in order to achieve the visual billboard effect on shelf,” says Dyer. “Icelandic Provisions’ illustration style strives for a level of sophistication while maintaining playfulness and whimsy. The individual elements are used to create patterns rather than scenes and help communicate product/brand benefits.”

Another unique aspect to the redesign is the shape of the package. Says IP’s Shifrin, since skyr is not a yogurt, the company has avoided using a “yogurt-looking” round cup. “We wanted to break the mold of that classic yogurt/Greek yogurt round cup shape and communicate that we are making something different,” he says.

When it was first introduced, IP’s skyr was packaged in a parallelogram-shaped cup, inspired by the geometry of the basalt columns in Vik, Iceland, and decorated with a shrink-sleeve label. The new package is a rounded rectangle that uses a package style designed to elevate the brand. The structure comprises a thermoformed polypropylene cup, covered with a paperboard sleeve. “The sleeve,” says Shifrin, “allows for richer color saturation and more possibilities with graphics, which the shrink sleeve wouldn’t allow for.”

The package, the K3-H from Greiner, allows all sides of the cup as well as the bottom to be wrapped with the sleeve to extend the printed surface area. At the base of the cup is a paper foot, much like a paper coffee cup. The sleeve can be removed via a perforation, allowing both components to be recycled. The new package, says Shifrin, “has impact in terms of shelf presence and footprint as well.”

The new packaging for Icelandic Provisions skyr line is scheduled to roll out in December 2017. IP’s products are sold in nearly 4,000 stores in North America, including Whole Foods, Wegmans, Sprouts, Safeway, and Ahold, as well as in many natural grocers and smaller chains across the country.

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